Pineapple is a delicious and healthy tropical fruit that is enjoyed around the world. However, some people claim that eating too much pineapple can have a laxative effect. In this article, we will examine the evidence behind whether pineapple is truly a laxative food.
What is a laxative food?
A laxative food is one that can help promote bowel movements and relieve constipation. There are many different foods that are considered natural laxatives, including fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds that are high in fiber. Fiber adds bulk to stool and helps move it through the intestines more quickly. Other laxative foods contain chemicals that stimulate muscle contractions in the intestines or increase water content in the stool to make it softer and easier to pass.
Some common foods known for their laxative effects include:
- Nuts and seeds
Laxative foods are generally safe when consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. However, eating too much of certain laxative foods or suddenly increasing fiber intake can lead to gas, bloating, diarrhea and intestinal cramping.
Does pineapple have laxative properties?
So what about pineapple? Does it deserve its reputation as a laxative food? Let’s take a look at the evidence.
One of the main reasons pineapple may act as a laxative is its fiber content. A 100g serving of fresh pineapple contains 1.4g of dietary fiber. This is a significant amount compared to other fruits.
|Fruit||Fiber per 100g|
Pineapple’s significant fiber content helps add bulk to stool and may improve intestinal motility.
In addition to fiber, pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain. Bromelain helps break down proteins and has anti-inflammatory properties. Some research indicates bromelain can also help reduce gut inflammation and stimulate contractions in the intestines.
A 1978 study found that bromelain enzymes extracted from pineapple stems helped induce bowel movements in patients suffering from constipation. The laxative effects occurred without any major side effects.
High water content
Pineapples are made up of around 85% water. This high water content helps soften stool in the intestines, allowing it to move more easily through the digestive tract.
Other potential laxative factors
There are a few other elements of pineapple that may contribute to its laxative effects:
- Fruits acids – Pineapples contain organic acids like citric acid and malic acid that may stimulate muscle contractions in the intestines.
- B vitamins – Pineapples provide B vitamins including folate and thiamine that help improve digestion.
- Antioxidants – Antioxidants like vitamin C and manganese found in pineapples can help reduce inflammation in the gut.
Does cooking affect pineapple’s laxative properties?
Interestingly, the way a pineapple is prepared may affect its potency as a laxative food. Raw, fresh pineapple likely has the strongest laxative powers.
When a pineapple is heated or canned, it loses some of its natural enzymes. This includes the bromelain enzymes that are thought to stimulate contractions in the intestines and improve bowel function.
Canned pineapple generally contains less fiber than fresh as well since the canning process removes some of the fibrous fruit pulp. So while canned pineapple still has some laxative components, fresh raw pineapple is most effective.
Recommended pineapple intake
For most people, eating a few slices of pineapple or drinking a small glass of pineapple juice should not cause any digestion issues. Problems are more likely to occur if you suddenly eat large amounts of pineapple or drink nearly a liter of juice in one sitting.
As a guide, health experts recommend limiting your fresh pineapple intake to no more than:
- 1 cup diced pineapple
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- 2-3 pineapple rings
Spreading your intake throughout the day instead of all at once can also minimize laxative effects. Additionally, start slowly if pineapple is something new you are adding to your diet.
Some people may be more sensitive to the effects of laxative foods like pineapple. Those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or gastrointestinal issues are most at risk of adverse effects.
In some cases, pineapple enzymes like bromelain can cause diarrhea and stomach pain. The high fiber and fruit acids found in pineapple may also aggravate conditions like IBS. If you have reactive bowels, be cautious when trying pineapple.
Based on its fiber content, enzymes, and fluid composition, pineapple does appear to have mild laxative properties. While pineapple is very healthy and nutritious overall, eating large amounts may trigger diarrhea or intestinal distress in some individuals.
Moderating your intake and not suddenly ramping up how much pineapple you eat can help prevent adverse effects. Additionally, cooking pineapple may decrease some of its potency as a laxative food. If you have a sensitive digestive system, be cautious when consuming large amounts of raw pineapple.